Animals in shelters typically come from a background of abuse and neglect. Sometimes these animals have little or no social skills with other animals or humans. Similar to humans, social skills with humans or other animals are vital.

What is socialization?

Socialization teaches dogs to interact with humans and other animals in a friendly manner. Those responsible for socializing dogs use different tactics and methods. Placing dogs in foster homes and forever homes requires they have certain socialization skills. The skills required depend on the makeup of those homes. Do the homes have children, other dogs, or other pets? How does the dog respond to children, males, females, and other animals?

Often times, animal shelters know little about the dogs in their care. Especially when the dogs are found abandoned. In these situations, how do you know what type of environment they will thrive in? The best shelters perform aggression testing to determine what social skills are in place and which need to be worked on.

Proper socialization decreases the dog’s stress and the chance of lashing out. Shelter dogs need to be introduced to socializing differently than a 3-week old puppy. Follow these steps for socializing your shelter dogs:

  1. Choose the right volunteer. Choose volunteers who are calm by nature. Anxiousness is easily detected by the dogs. If the volunteer is anxious or quick to yank on the leash, the dogs get scared.
  2. Introduce them to other shelter dogs. During the initial meetings keep both dogs on a loose leash. This gives the dogs chance to move freely to check out the surrounding environment. Keep the dogs about 8 feet apart to avoid a face to face meeting which many dogs don’t enjoy.
  3. Pay attention. Take notice of how the dogs react to one another. Look for signs of discomfort – stiff body, bared teeth, or growling. Maintain distance between the dogs in these situations or stop for the day if they don’t calm down.
  4. Introduce them to a group setting. After the dogs do well in the one on one introduction, they can be introduced to a group setting. Have the volunteer take the dog into a group environment on a leash. Drop the leash inside – give them chance to explore while still having a method to manage them. Take them off the leash after 20-30 minutes of good behavior. Continue to watch them for another 20- 30 minutes to make sure they remain calm.
  5. Slowly move them full-time to the group setting. Move new dogs into the group setting in stages. Let them stay for a few hours adding time every day until you work up to a full day with the other dogs.

So you’re getting a new pet, or maybe you’ve already brought one home, but you have no idea what to name the little guy (or girl!).  If that’s the case, there are plenty of great ways to pick that perfect name: from watching your pet in the early stages and seeing what activities he or she gets up to, to looking at his or her physical characteristics, to simply choosing a traditional name, there really is no wrong way to find the name that suits your pet.

Here are a few tips on finding that perfect name:

Traditional Names

Many people like to name their dog or cat a traditional pet name, like Rover, Whiskers, Fluffy, or Max. They don’t care for trendy names, and would prefer to stick to convention.  If that’s you, maybe Spot or Buddy might be for you.

Physical Characteristics

Or, if you prefer to name your pet based on his or her physical characteristics, it’s an easy way to go, and one that lots of people choose.  You can go with a name based upon his or her color like Snowball or Midnight; or name him for his size and call him Hercules or even Tiny.  ‘Spot’ could fall into this category, too!

Activities and Personality

When you first bring your pet home, look at what activities he likes to do. What is her personality? Does she get into trouble a lot? Call her trouble! Is she sweet? Maybe ‘Sweetie’ or ‘Honey’?  Or is he always getting into trouble but then giving you puppy dog eyes and wiggling right out? Call him Wiggles!

Favorite Things

Finally, you may simply consider naming your new pet after your favorite thing: a favorite character in a book or television show; maybe after your favorite snack (Hershey is he’s a chocolate Lab?). Whatever matters to you is always a great name, after all, your pet is going to matter a great deal to you.

Remember, when it comes to naming your pet:

  • You don’t have to do it right away. It’s a name you’ll both have to get used to, and it’s a name he’ll have for years to come.
  • It should not be more than two syllables, as a pet will have trouble remembering it.
  • Choose a name that can’t be confused with other commands you will be teaching your dog or cat (like off, down, sit, etc).

To Vaccinate Or Not

July 24, 2015

To Vaccinate Or Not

You love your dogs and cats like your children, and for some parents, your pets are your children. With this in mind, your pets’ health is a number one priority. You want the best for them. So, why are vaccinations–something meant to protect your loved ones–under such scrutiny, of late? Are vaccines really necessary? Some studies claim they have proved them harmful, while the mainstream opinion is that they are prudent. Ultimately, the choice is yours.

Why Vaccinate Your Pets?

According to the ASPCA, vaccinating your dog or cat is an important part of the animal health routine. Vaccines against the ravages of rabies, canine distemper, and canine parvovirus are highly recommended–all of these infections are easily spread, and can be fatal. Cats, too, are at risk of similar infections–like feline panleukopenia (resembling parvo)–and preventative vaccinations are the first and best line of defense.

What About Side Effects?

Common, and recognized, side effects usually amount to little more than soreness around the injection sights. But, occasionally, pets may have more adverse reactions; a less common side effect is the development of mediated disease following a vaccination. By the numbers, this is rare.

On the other paw, not all vets and advocates of animal welfare agree about animal health, or that a stringent regiment of anti-bodies and vaccinations is necessary, and contend that it can do more harm than good. In fact, independent studies claim that epidemiological studies–which are indicators for, but not proof of, a vaccine’s safety or effectiveness–are misleading, and that many vaccines are outdated and even dangerous. Some studies claim that vaccinations even cause cancer, especially at the injection sights.

What To Do?

Animal health is a major priority, however, and you want the best for your pets. According to the ASPCA, because of the risks and vaccine controversy, more attention is now being given concerning things like timeliness and necessity of certain vaccinations. Since the final decisions are your own, taking a country vet’s view on the matter may be the best option–you may want to ask, “Should I fix it if it isn’t broken,” and, “what is best for my pet, specifically?” The needs of pets differ, and what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander. Talk to your vet, ask questions, and use a little common sense when it comes to the health of your pets.

Weight Control In Pets

July 17, 2015

Approximately 54 percent of cats and dogs in America are obese. Animal obesity tends to be a major problem for pet owners as it is important to watch what your pet eats just as you monitor what you eat on a daily basis. There are several ways that you can control the weight in your pet by simply making sure they get enough activity throughout the day and monitoring what they eat.

First determine if your dog or cat is overweight. This can be done by looking at them and noticing that they have a sagging stomach, no waistline, and/or a broad flat back. See if you can grab a handful of fat. This will help you recognize there must be something done immediately to help your pet lose weight. Obesity can shorten your pet’s life and excess fat will impair its health and quality of life.

Indoor cats of 10 to 15 pounds should not eat more than 200 to 220 calories a day and dogs at 10 to 15 pounds shouldn’t eat more than 275 calories a day. Check the food you’re giving them and determine if it’s right for them. The more organic and healthier the food is the more chances your pet will live longer without gaining much weight. Knowing how many calories your pet takes in a day is vital to preventing animal obesity.

The following steps will help decrease their chances of gaining weight.

  • Neutered/spayed pets tend to gain weight easier. Be prepared to monitor what your cat or dog eats regularly to avoid obesity.
  • Decrease food intake and increase activity level. Take dogs on longer walks and provide cats with more toys and things to climb on including cat trees.
  • Feed twice a day in smaller amounts than usual. Avoid any table food. Give fewer treats and offer them in the middle of the day so that they can burn it off before dinner.

Try playing with your pet. Dogs can go for a run in the park while cats can have an activity time in the morning or evening for chasing rope, lasers, or balls.

Pets like to spend time with their owners and if you’re active they will want to be active with you. It’s more than just petting or feeding time to your pets, it’s sharing moments with you that help them bond with you and live longer lives.

Preventing ticks and fleas in your pets will also keep you and your family safe and healthy. When you promote animal health by preventing your furry friend from catching these blood-sucking bugs, you avoid catching the critters yourself and contracting the diseases they carry. While Fido and Fluffy are at less risk of picking up nuisance pests such as tapeworm and avoid the itchy misery of flea bites or even the Flea Bite Anemia caused by large infestations, it is not just animal health at risk from the bites. Flea prevention also guards you and your family from human illnesses. Pet pests usually carried by dogs and cats like fleas cause human diseases like tick paralysis, ehrlichia, Lyme Disease, anaplasmosis, as well as Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Luckily there are plenty of solutions on the market, ranging from oral doses to wearable flea-preventing collars and spot-on topical solutions. All of these solutions for flea prevention in your pet take into consideration different life cycles of the flea and target the adult, larvae and egg stages. This is why it is important to maintain the doses of flea prevention. For the very young or the very old cat or dog, a flea comb can be used to check their fur regularly. While in today’s hectic world giving flea prevention medication seems like one more chore to do by taking care of your animal, you are also looking after the health of your human companions.

Winters aren’t just tough on humans they’re also hard for pets. True, they don’t have to shovel snow but unless they’re pulling sleds in Alaska, their activity is mostly limited to indoors. So take advantage of the many summer animal activities available in your area before those cold months return.

WATER. There are different forms everywhere; oceans, lakes, rivers, swimming pools. If your dog loves the water, this can be a great break from the heat. Make sure to take safety precautions when allowing your pet into the water:

  • Be aware of currents in oceans and rivers.
  • Life jackets are made for dogs too, and available in all sizes.
  • Use canine ear-drying solution to avoid ear infections.
  • Make sure the water is clean. If you wouldn’t go in, don’t allow your pet to.

CANINE AGILITY COURSES are popping up all over. You don’t have to be in training for a competition to enjoy the fun these courses have to offer. Dogs of all shapes and sizes will find something fun to do. Most courses are equipped with obstacles like tunnels, ladders and jumps. You can even build a DIY course in your own backyard.

PARKS are a haven for our four legged friends. Just make sure to check each park’s leash rules before releasing your dog. Some parks offer specific off-leash hours. If you’re camping out for the day, don’t forget to bring your pet’s favorite toy, a blanket, water, food and maybe even a small collapsible tent for shade.

NIGHT TIME ACTIVITIES are great during heat waves. Wait until the sun goes down then bring your pet along for your run, not only good for him but healthier for you.  Take your dog to a lit tennis court and toss her the ball or better yet, let her play “doggie in the middle” as you and a mate hit the ball back and forth.

OPEN THE WINDOWS in the house. Cats love to look outside, even if they’re too “scaredy“, or not allowed to go out there. When windows are closed they only get half the show. By opening the windows they get the smells and sound effects too.

No matter what animal activities you choose for you and your pet make sure you protect them from common summer dangers like fleas & ticks, heartworm, dehydration and heatstroke.

Have a safe, happy & fun summer!

As the winter fades away and the temperatures rise, we naturally spend more time outdoors. Spring is a glorious time of year, but for allergy sufferers, it can be an extremely irritating season.  You may not realize it, but your dog and cat can suffer from seasonal allergies as well. You don’t need to be an animal health expert to figure out if your pet has allergies. Here are a few things to consider to help alleviate your pet’s symptoms.

How to tell if your pet has allergies

As the trees start to bloom, they release pollen into the air. These tiny airborne particles can cause your dog’s eyes to itch, but you’ll most likely notice your pooch scratching a lot. Their skin becomes very itchy and they’ll scratch, bite, and rub themselves against hard surfaces to find some sort of relief. You might also notice hot spots on your dog. According to an animal health expert, a hot spot is noticeably red and there can be bleeding and hair loss around a small area of skin.

How to help your pet cope with allergies

Environmental allergies are almost impossible to avoid for dogs who need to go outside to do their business. For cats, it’s quite simple – keep them indoors. To help alleviate your dog’s allergy symptoms, bath them frequently. The more they scratch, the more inflamed and tender the skin will become. Regular baths throughout the spring and summer months can help sooth their dry, itchy skin.

How to help prevent allergies

It may not be possible to prevent all seasonal allergies, but you can help prevent the symptoms.

  • Clean your pet’s bedding frequently and vacuum and clean the floors regularly.
  • Use non-toxic cleaners. Household cleaners with harsh chemicals can irritate their skin even more.
  • Animal health is a priority. Keep your pet healthy by visiting the vet yearly for their regular checkup. Allergies are an immune system response, so it’s important to keep your pet’s immune system strong.
  • An anti-inflammatory diet or raw food diet may also help alleviate allergy symptoms.

One look into the eyes of an abused and discarded animal is enough to melt the heart of any animal lover. You know that animal is looking for love and affection, you know that animal has never been given any. This is most evident when you see pets in a shelter. They are either very friendly or very angry. The two extremes are there for a reason. Just like any human would react to mistreatment so do animals.
However shelter pets make the best pets:
They are not Spoiled
Animal lovers the world over have the worst trend of spoiling their pets. Pet shops also need to make that animal look and smell great in order to attract a sale. The pet is groomed and given a clean bed sometimes twice a day. Their only job is to look pretty so they can be sold. A shelter animal before arriving at a shelter has been lying in it’s own feces and fleas and dirt for so long that when he is cleaned it is a luxury and not a expectation.
They can Stomach variety of Foods
From their hard life on the streets when a animal is placed at the shelter they adapt to eat the food given. They are not fussy and do not need special diets. They just need a well balanced healthy meal.
Very Loving
A shelter animal can become very loving once adopted and treated well. Even the animal that has become aggressive from abuse, can with a gentle loving touch and good care become a loving pet. They have hardly known love so when they feel it they adore it and fall in love with you immediately.
Disciplined
A shelter animal is also more disciplined once they have been taught and are loved. The reason for this is that they have known a bad life and they do not want to go back to that life. They listen when you talk and they try not test your patience.
Healthier
A shelter pet is healthier as it has had all it’s shots and also from a life of abuse and living on the street it has learned to eat lower quality food than normal. It’s immune system is higher and the animals threshold for catching diseases is strong.
Shelter animal most definitely make the better pet.Stop by your shelter today and get a friend for life.

When many think of animal rescue, images of pulling animals from shelters, hosting adoptive events and most importantly, finding good homes for pets in need.   While these activities are an important aspects of animal rescue, there are other details that involve the business portion of running a rescue group.

A rescue group has medical and food expenses, transport planning and fundraising activities that must be addressed.     If they have a physical location where the animals are housed or meet potential adopters, liability and hazard insurance must be purchased.   But is animal rescue insurance coverage needed if the group does not have a permanent structure for housing and visits by adopters?   Do they need coverage if the group is completely foster-based?

The answer to these questions is yes, rescue groups that are foster-based do have the need for animal rescue insurance.   

General liability insurance is needed by all rescue groups.   This type of policy will cover property damage along bodily injury and subsequent medical bills. General liability coverage can help defend your group against lawsuits, slander and libel that are outside the realm of your group’s service.

Officers and directors insurance can cover your group’s board of directors, employees and volunteers.   It can protect the personal assets of those serving against lawsuits directed towards the rescue group.  Having such a policy in place may encourage qualified individuals from serving on the board of directors or as a group officer.  This coverage can also cover the 501C organization itself against many type of lawsuits. 

While the task of purchasing insurance may not have been considered when your group was founded, it is a valuable method of protection.   Defense against a lawsuit that can costs thousands of dollars and can place personal assets of members and the very existence of your organization at risk.  Allow your group to continue on its mission of saving the lives of homeless pets by obtaining adequate insurance coverage.

Matching fur babies with their family members is a day that will change the lives of both forever. This day can come even sooner if you publicize the animal as much as possible. You can increase animal adoptions in easy, simple ways.

Online Viewing

Animal adoptions have proven to skyrocket once people can put a face to an animal and fall in love. Put each pet on your website so people can browse through and find the type of animals that interest them. Offer fun personality traits and any background information. Write attention catching, fun copy to draw people into each pet. Make sure the pet looks snazzy and that the picture showcases their personality. Besides you own website, register with PetFinder.com. This website helps thousands of pets find their soulmates each year.

Mobile Adoption Events
Getting pets in front of hundreds of hands waiting to pet them will help your adoption rates. You can set up these adoption events at any city gathering or festival to increase exposure. Hand out education material about adopting pets so people can see the benefits. Many people simply cannot resist petting a cute animal and just leaving the animal there watching as they walk away. It’s hard to turn down puppy dog eyes and a sweet kitty cat purr!

Television
Many local television networks offer spots about adoptable pets. Dress a few of the pets up in a cute “Adopt Me” attire and parade them on television. If you’ve ever seen any of the late night talk show’s animal spots, you know they are some of the most fun and popular segments. People can see the personality of the animals and connect which leads them to coming in to visit the pet for potential adoption.

Flyers

Take adorable pictures of the adoptable pets and print them on cardstock along with a playful biography. You can place these at the organization when people come to visit or you can pass the flyers out when you are out with the pets on a walk or playing outside. Ask local businesses if you can stick some of the cards in their windows or at the cashier counter so the pets get utmost exposure.